Red Sox activate Rich Hill from bereavement list, option Tyler Danish to Triple-A Worcester

Before dropping Sunday’s series finale against the Rays by a final score of 5-2, the Red Sox activated Rich Hill from the bereavement list and, in a corresponding move, optioned Tyler Danish to Triple-A Worcester.

Hill spent five days on the bereavement list after his father, Lloyd, passed away at the age of 94 last week. The 42-year-old had been away from the team to attend his father’s services in Milton.

In his return to the mound on Sunday, Hill was certainly not at his best, but he still grinded his way through four scoreless innings of work at Tropicana Field. Over those four frames, the veteran left-hander yielded four hits and three walks while hitting one batter and striking out another.

With some defensive help from the likes of Rob Refsnyder and Christian Vazquez, Hill finished with a final pitch count of 62 (35 strikes) on Sunday. He relied primarily on his four-seam fastball and curveball combo and induced a total of three swings-and-misses on the afternoon.

While he did not factor into Sunday’s decision, Hill did lower his ERA on the season to 4.85 through three starts spanning 13 innings pitched. It is unclear when the Massachusetts native will make his next start, though it will likely come in Baltimore at some point next weekend.

With the Red Sox activating Hill earlier Sunday morning, they cleared a spot for the lefty by sending down Danish. Danish, 27, was called up from Worcester for the first time last Tuesday and appeared in two games with the big-league club.

In those two outings, the right-hander twirled three cumulative scoreless innings while allowing no hits and two walks. He also struck out five of the 10 batters he faced.

On the surface, it may appear as though Danish will be returning to the WooSox. That said, MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo reports that Danish is still with the Red Sox and is a candidate to be called up once more ahead of this week’s series against the Blue Jays in Toronto.

To add on to that, The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham tweets that Danish is indeed flying with the team to Toronto and will be replacing a pitcher who is placed on the restricted list on Monday.

As noted by Cotillo, the Sox will be leaving a number of players — including Tanner Houck — behind for their trip north of the border since they are not vaccinated against COVID-19.

Regardless of the number of players placed on the restricted list on Monday, Danish will find himself back in the big-leagues and presumably pitching out of Boston’s bullpen at Rogers Centre.

(Picture of Rich Hill: Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

Red Sox score early, but not often in 5-2 loss to Rays

The Red Sox dropped the finale of their three-game weekend series against the Rays at Tropicana Field on Sunday. Boston fell to Tampa Bay in the rubber match by a final score of 5-2, marking their fourth loss in their last five games to drop to 7-9 on the season.

Both runs the Sox scored on Sunday came right away in the first inning off Rays starter Shane McClanahan. Trevor Story led off with a hard-hit double and immediately scored on a groundball single off the bat of Enrique Hernandez. Xander Bogaerts advanced Hernandez into scoring position and Alex Verdugo brought him in on an RBI single of his own.

So, on nine pitches, the Red Sox found themselves in possession of an early 2-0 lead to give Rich Hill a nice cushion out of the gate. Hill, making his third start of the year and first since returning to the bereavement list, managed to keep the Rays off the scoreboard while scattering four hits, three walks, and one hit batsman to go along with one strikeout over four innings of work.

Rob Refsnyder, starting in right field, aided Hill in the second inning when he gunned down Randy Arozarena, who was trying to stretch a two-out single into a two-out double, at second base for the final out of the frame.

Hill finished his day retiring five of the final eight batters he faced. 35 of the 62 pitches the left-hander threw went for strikes.

Before first pitch on Sunday, it was expected that Tanner Houck would piggyback off of Hill since Boston cannot use the right-hander during their series in Toronto. Rather than have Houck take the mound in the fifth, however, acting manager Will Venable first turned to Phillips Valdez out of the bullpen.

Valdez, in turn, recorded just one out while loading the bases on one walk and two hit batsman. Ryan Brasier then came on and allowed all three of the runners he inherited to score on a two-run double from Ji-Man Choi and RBI groundout from Manuel Margot that gave Tampa Bay their first lead of the day at 3-2.

Matt Barnes got the call for the sixth inning and yielded back-to-back one-out singles to Kevin Kiermaier and Arozarena. Kiermaier, the hero of Saturday’s contest, moved up to third on a Wander Franco groundout. Following a pitching change that saw Jake Diekman take over for Barnes, the speedy outfielder scored on a wild pitch to make it a 4-2 game.

Diekman remained in the game in the seventh and served up a solo home run to Yandy Diaz that gave the Rays a 5-2 edge. It was not until later in the inning when Houck finally emerged and sat down the only five hitters he faced in order to keep the three-run deficit intact at the end of eight.

Down to their final three outs of the ninth, Verdugo, Bobby Dalbec, and Travis Shaw went down in order against Ryan Thompson to seal a 5-2 defeat for the Red Sox.

Next up: On to Toronto

The Red Sox will board a flight to Toronto while leaving unvaccinated players such as Houck behind to open a four-game series against the Blue Jays on Monday night.

In the opener, it will be right-hander Nathan Eovaldi getting the ball for Boston and fellow righty Jose Berrios doing the same for Toronto.

First pitch from Rogers Centere is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.

(Picture of Alex Verdugo: Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

Red Sox break up no-hitter in 10th inning, then get walked off on by Kevin Kiermaier in wild 3-2 loss to Rays

The Red Sox delivered a late birthday present to Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier on Saturday night. Kiermaier, who turned 32 on Friday, crushed a two-run walk-off home run off Hansel Robles in the 10th inning to lift Tampa Bay to a stunning 3-2 win over Boston at Tropicana Field.

With the loss, the Sox fall to 7-8 on the season. They have not won consecutive ballgames since April 16-17.

Garrett Whitlock, making his first start and fifth overall appearance of the year, absolutely dominated the Rays’ lineup. In what was his first career big-league start, the right-hander yielded just one hit and no walks to go along with seven strikeouts over four scoreless, near-perfect innings of work.

After taking a perfect game into the fourth inning, Whitlock gave up a leadoff double to Brandon Lowe. He then stranded Lowe at second base by retiring the final three batters he faced in order. The 25-year-old finished with a final pitch count of 48 (33 strikes) and turned to his sinker 58% of the time he was on the mound.

In relief of Whitlock, Austin Davis received the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen from acting manager Will Venable. The left-hander maneuvered his way around a two-out walk in an otherwise clean frame before making way for Kutter Crawford, who twirled three scoreless innings of his own while striking out five.

Tyler Danish walked the first batter he faced in the ninth to put the potential winning run on base, but left him there to send this 0-0 game into extra innings.

To that point in the contest, the Red Sox lineup had been no-hit by six different Rays pitchers in J.P. Feyereisen, Javy Guerra, Jeffrey Springs, Jason Adam, Ryan Thompson, and Andrew Kittredge. They reached base six times over that stretch via five walks and a fielding error, but were unable to do anything with those base runners.

In the top of the 10th, Matt Wisler took over for Kittredge and Jackie Bradley Jr. became the automatic runner at second base. On the third pitch he saw from Wisler, an 0-2 slider, Bobby Dalbec came through in the clutch by lacing an RBI triple down the right field line.

Dalbec’s 322-foot foot triple left his bat at 97.1 mph. It also provided the Sox with their first hit of the night and drove in Bradley Jr. to give them a late 1-0 lead. Dalbec then scored on a Christian Vazquez sacrifice fly to double that advantage to 2-0.

That sequence led to Venable going with Robles in the bottom half of the 10th. With Randy Arozarena at second base and the potential tying run at the plate, Robles fanned Ji-Man Choi and Josh Lowe for the first two outs of the inning.

A balk from Robles allowed Arozarena to advance to third. With the Rays down to their final out, Taylor Walls reached base on a throwing error committed by Trevor Story and Arozarena scored to cut Tampa Bay’s deficit to one.

Robles then fell behind in the count against Kiermaier and served up the game-winning, two-run homer on a 96 mph four-seamer down the heart of the plate. Kiermaier deposited it 372 feet into the right field seats to send the Rays home with a come-from-behind victory.

Next up: Hill vs. McClanahan in rubber match

Despite losing in heartbreaking fashion, the Red Sox still have a chance to win this three-game series against the Rays on Sunday afternoon. Boston will turn to left-hander Rich Hill as he makes his return from the bereavement list in the series finale. Tampa Bay, on the other hand, will roll with fellow southpaw Shane McClanahan.

First pitch from Tropicana Field is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Hansel Robles and Kevin Kiermaier: Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

Garrett Whitlock to make first career start for Red Sox on Saturday

Garrett Whitlock will make his first career start for the Red Sox when they go up against the Rays on Saturday, acting manager Will Venable told reporters at Tropicana Field on Friday evening.

Rich Hill, who has been on the bereavement list since his father, Lloyd, passed away last week, was originally slated to start Saturday’s contest. The Red Sox, however, opted to move Hill’s start to Sunday so that the left-hander could get an extra day of rest after being away from the team to attend his father’s services over the last few days.

With Hill’s spot in the rotation becoming vacant, Boston decided it would be best to have Whitlock fill in for the veteran southpaw on Saturday night.

Since coming over from the Yankees in the 2020 Rule 5 Draft, Whitlock has only been used by the Sox as a reliever. So far this season, the right-hander has posted a miniscule 0.93 ERA and 2.74 FIP to go along with 11 strikeouts to two walks across four appearances spanning 9 2/3 innings out of the bullpen.

On Saturday, the plan will be for Whitlock to throw three or four innings, as he will only be working on three days rest. Though it will be his first time doing it at the big-league level, starting games is nothing new for the 25-year-old, who made a total of 38 starts over three seasons (2017-2019) in the Yankees organization.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, the Red Sox view Whitlock as a starter in the long-term. They made that much clear when they signed the righty to a four-year extension earlier this month that includes escalators based on the number of innings he pitches.

(Picture of Garrett Whitlock: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox crush 5 homers, collect 20 hits in 14-6 rout of Rays to even ALDS at 1-1

It was a back-and-forth kind of affair, but the Red Sox were once again able to battle their way back for a potentially pivotal win over the Rays in Game 2 of the American League Division Series.

Despite putting themselves in an early hole, Boston bested Tampa Bay by a final score of 14-6 at Tropicana Field on Friday night to even this best-of-five series at one game apiece.

Coming off a Game 1 showing in which they were shut out in a postseason game for the first time in five years, the Red Sox lineup jumped all over Rays rookie starter Shane Baz to begin things in Game 2.

Kyle Schwarber led off the top of the first inning by drawing a four-pitch walk before moving up to third base on a ground-ball double from Enrique Hernandez.

Rafael Devers struck out on five pitches for the first out of the fifth, but Xander Bogaerts and Alex Verdugo each followed by getting their productive nights at the plate started with back-to-back run-scoring singles.

The first instance of the Bogaerts-Verdugo combination at work gave the Red Sox an immediate 2-0 lead as Chris Sale took the mound, though it did not last long.

Sale, like Eduardo Rodriguez before him, was not long for his first postseason start since 2018. That being the case because the veteran left-hander surrendered five runs — all of which were earned — on four hits and one walk to go along with two strikeouts on the night.

On his first two pitches of the first inning, the Rays put runners on first and second on a pair of quick singles. Sale then issued a one-out walk to Nelson Cruz to fill the bases before giving up an RBI single to Yandy Diaz.

Diaz’s base hit pushed across the Rays’ first run of the night while also re-filling the bases for Jordan Luplow, who was primarily in Tampa Bay’s lineup to face of against left-handed pitching.

Sale, in turn, proceeded to serve up a towering, 387-foot grand slam to the right-handed hitting Luplow that saw Boston’s 2-1 lead turn into a 5-2 defecit.

On the heels of giving up that impactful of a hit, Sale’s day was done as soon as he recorded the final out of the first inning. The 32-year-old hurler finished with a final pitch count of 30 (20 strikes) and induced just three swings-and-misses in total.

Having to turn to his bullpen earlier than anticipated for the second straight day, Red Sox manager Alex Cora handed things over to Tanner Houck in the middle of the second inning, and that decision proved to be quite beneficial.

After Houck retired the side in order in the bottom of the second, the aforementioned Bogaerts-Verdugo combination struck again in the top of the third, as the All-Star shortstop clubbed a one-out solo shot to knock Baz out of the game while the fiery outfielder greeted new reliever Collin McHugh by crushing a home run of his own.

The back-to-back blasts off the bats of Bogaerts and Verdugo cut Tampa Bay’s deficit down to one run at 5-4. Houck, in return, kept the score just like that by putting up two more zeroes in the third and fourth innings.

In the top half of the fifth, Hernandez provided some power, as he led the frame off by taking McHugh 393 feet deep to left field on a hanging slider to pull his side back even with the opposition at 5-5.

Hernandez’s homer was only a precursor of what was to come in the fifth, though, with Devers and Bogaerts each reaching base before J.D. Martinez made his impact felt in his return to the lineup by tattooing a go-ahead, three-run home run over everything in center field.

Martinez’s three-run blast, which came off Matt Wisler and traveled 412 feet off his bat, broke a 5-5 stalemate and gave the Sox their first lead since the first inning at 8-5 going into the halfway point.

Houck, meanwhile, was in the process of stringing together an impressive run of his own. Going back to his final start of the regular season against the Nationals last Saturday, the righty sat down 29 straight hitters before allowing a two-out single to Wander Franco in the bottom of the fifth.

From there, Houck got through the fifth before serving up a solo shot to Ji-Man Choi an inning later, though he wrapped up his evening on a high note and — in the end — gave up just that one run while scattering two hits, zero walks, and five strikeouts in his five innings of relief.

Christian Vazquez, who had been catching Houck, got one of those runs back when he drove in Verdugo on a ground-ball RBI single in the top of the seventh before being behind the plate while Ryan Brasier punched out the side in the bottom half.

Devers, sore right arm and all, added on to Boston’s lead in the eighth inning when he — while matched up against Michael Wacha — scored Hernandez and demolished a 425-foot two-run home run over the center field wall.

The Red Sox went up 11-6 on Devers’ home run. It was also Boston’s fifth homer of the night, which sets a new franchise record for the most hit in a single postseason game.

Hansel Robles took over for Brasier and preserved an 11-6 lead with a scoreless bottom of the eighth, while Vazquez tacked on one more on another RBI single.

Hernandez, meanwhile, capped off his stellar night by putting the finishing touches on his first-ever five-hit game (in the regular and postseas0n). He plated both Hunter Renfroe and Vazquez on a two-run single that made it a 14-6 game.

Given a sizable cushion to work with now, Matt Barnes — who was just added to the ALDS roster in place of Garrett Richards on Friday — slammed the door on the Rays in the bottom half of the ninth to lock up a 14-6 victory.

With the win, the Red Sox pull even with the Rays in this best-of-five series and now have the opportunity to win it back at home.

Red Sox lineup breaks out in a tremendous way

Out of the No. 2 spot on Friday, Enrique Hernandez went 5-for-6 with three doubles, one home run, three RBI, and three runs scored. He becomes the first Red Sox player to ever record four extra-base hits in a postseason game.

Xander Bogaerts, Alex Verdugo, and J.D. Martinez (Boston’s Nos. 4, 5, and 6 hitters) went a combined 10-for-15 with one double, three home runs, seven RBI, and five runs scored.

Verdugo, starting in left field, also made a nice catch in foul territory to prevent Nelson Cruz from extending his at-bat against Tanner Houck in the sixth inning.

Houck earns win

Tanner Houck earned his first career postseason win in Friday’s win. He has essentially been lights out since the calendar flipped to October.

Next up: Eovaldi on tap for Game 3

The Red Sox will board a flight to Boston, enjoy an off day on Saturday, then resume this ALDS with the Rays at Fenway Park on Sunday afternoon.

Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is slated to get the ball for Boston in Game 3, while fellow righty Drew Rasmussen will do the same for Tampa Bay.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 4:07 p.m. eastern time on MLB Network.

(Picture of Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts: Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

Red Sox tab Eduardo Rodriguez to start Game 1 of ALDS vs. Rays; Chris Sale likely to start second game of best-of-5 series

The Red Sox have tabbed Eduardo Rodriguez to start Game 1 of the American Division series against the Rays at Tropicana Field on Thursday night.

Rodriguez will start opposite a fellow southpaw in the form of Rays rookie Shane McClanahan, as first pitch Thursday is scheduled for 8:07 p.m. eastern time on FS1.

Over the course of the season, Rodriguez certainly experienced his fair share of ups and downs after missing all of year due to myocarditis (inflammation of the heart of muscle) that came as a result of a bout with COVID-19.

In 32 outings (31 starts) this year, the 28-year-old left-hander posted a 4.74 ERA over 157 2/3 innings of work, though he put up a much more respectable 3.32 FIP in that same time frame.

On top of that, Rodriguez ended his regular season on a high-note by pitching to the tune of a 3.26 ERA and 3.07 FIP over his final 12 appearances (11 starts) and 58 innings pitched from August 4 on.

While matched up against the Rays at Tropicana Field on two separate occasions this season, Rodriguez allowed a total of five runs (three earned) on 11 hits, two walks, and 13 strikeouts over 12 innings of work. That’s good for an ERA of 2.25 — as well as an OPS against of .625.

When asked on Wednesday why he decided to give the ball to Rodriguez for the opening contest of a pivotal best-of-five series against a division rival on the road, Red Sox manager Alex Cora offered a simple explanation.

“He has been throwing the ball well,” Cora said. “We think it’s a good matchup. Obviously with them you have to mix and match. They’re going to look for an advantage and all that. We’ll have Nick [Pivetta] in the bullpen tomorrow, and we’ll do what we do.”

Cora went on to say that the Sox still have plenty of decisions to make by the time rosters are due on Thursday, but he also emphasized how the team trusts in Rodriguez given the lefty’s past success in St. Petersburg.

“We feel Eddie has been there, done that,” said Cora. “He threw the ball well here before just like others on our pitching staff, so we feel very comfortable with him.”

Rodriguez will be making just his second career postseason start on Thursday night, representing another important milestone as he looks to build on what has already been a rejuvenating 2021 campaign.

“I’m very proud of him,” Cora said. “First thing is first, last year was a very difficult year for him not being able to play because of health issues. And the fact that he will be the starter tomorrow, I know it means a lot to him and his family. You know, his support system has been amazing throughout, and we are very proud of him.

“I mean, what he has done this season, regardless of the up and downs, he didn’t throw the ball extremely well at one point,” added Cora. “But he has been very consistent throughout. And he has been making adjustments every start and, you know, he has been getting better and better.”

As for who will follow Rodriguez and start for Boston in Game 2 of the ALDS, Cora has yet to make anything official, though he did say that “there’s a good chance” that responsibility will fall to Chris Sale.

(Picture of Eduardo Rodriguez: Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

Red Sox swept by Rays following 3-2 defeat; Boston extends losing streak to season-high 4 straight games

After Xander Bogaerts essentially described Sunday night’s series finale against the Rays as a must-win, the Red Sox came up short at Tropicana Field and were unable to avoid a three-game series sweep at the hands of their division rivals by a final score of 3-2.

Nick Pivetta, making his 21st start of the season for the Sox, took a perfect game into the third inning after sitting down each of the first eight batters he faced in order.

A two-out walk to the Rays’ No. 9 hitter in the bottom of the third, however, altered the course for Pivetta, as he saw his no-hit bid come to an end moments later by serving up a two-run home run to Brandon Lowe on a 3-2, 85 mph slider that was grooved down the heart of the plate.

Lowe’s blast put Tampa Bay up 2-0, but the Boston bats were able to cut that deficit in half in the top of the fourth. There, when matched up against tough Rays starter Shane McClanahan, ex-Rays outfielder Hunter Renfroe put a charge into his 16th big fly of the year.

Renfroe turned around a 2-2, 97 mph fastball from McClanahan and deposited it 427 feet to deep center field. The solo shot, which had an exit velocity of 104 mph, made it a 2-1 game in favor of the Rays.

The Sox had a chance to do more damage in the inning, with Christian Vazquez ripping a one-out single and Alex Verdugo advancing him into scoring position by drawing a walk, but McClanahan rallied by getting Kevin Plawecki to fly out and Bobby Dalbec to strike out to escape the jam.

Pivetta, meanwhile, got through a scoreless fourth inning unscathed, but ran into more trouble in the fifth when he yielded a leadoff single to rookie phenom Wander Franco.

A wild pitch from the right-hander allowed Franco to move up to second base, and old friend Manuel Margot took full advantage of that miscue by lacing a run-scoring single to right field to bring in Franco and make it a 3-1 contest in favor of his side.

Following that sequence, Pivetta was able to record the first two outs of the fifth, but his night ended then and there when Red Sox manager Alex Cora gave him the hook with the left-handed hitting Lowe due up next for the Rays.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 76 (54 strikes), the 28-year-old hurler wound up surrendering three earned runs on three hits, one walk, and six strikeouts.

In relief of Pivetta, left-hander Josh Taylor was called upon to face Lowe, and he won that particular matchup by getting him to pop out into foul territory to retire the side.

From there, recently-acquired reliever Hansel Robles made his Red Sox debut in the sixth inning, and he maneuvered his way around a leadoff single by inducing a fielder’s choice out and 3-6-3 double play in his lone scoreless frame of work.

The Rays turned to their bullpen starting in the seventh after McClanahan had given them six strong innings, and Verdugo greeted their first reliever of the night — Drew Rasmussen — by lining a scorching 111 mph double down the right field line to lead things off.

Verdugo moved up to third on a Plawecki fly out and scored on a wild pitch while Kiké Hernández, but even after Hernández himself singled and Rafael Devers drew a walk with two outs, a slumping J.D. Martinez was unable to bring in either runner and instead grounded into a force out to leave things at 3-2 in favor of Tampa Bay.

Following two scoreless innings of relief from Garrett Whitlock in which he scattered three total hits thanks to some stellar defense behind him out of the bullpen, the Red Sox were down to their final three outs going into their half of the ninth inning.

With righty reliever Matt Wisler on the mound for the Rays, Plawecki and Jarren Duran (pinch-hitting for Dalbec) grounded out and punched out, respectively. But Hernández provided a spark by reaching base on a two-out single.

The pinch-running Jonathan Arauz took over for Hernández as the base runner at first base, and Devers was able to advance him all the way up to third on another base hit to center field, leaving things in the hands of Martinez.

Very much in need of a hit, Martinez got ahead in the count against Wisler at 3-1, but swung at an outside pitch that likely would have been a ball before putting an 81 mph slider that was down and away in play.

Unfortunately for Martinez, the ball left his bat at just 71 mph and traveled a mere 226 feet before landing in the glove of Margot for the third and final out of the ninth, thus sealing a 3-2 defeat for the Sox.

In the process of getting swept by the Rays on Sunday night, the Red Sox went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position while leaving 10 men on base as a team.

Sunday’s loss also extends Boston’s losing streak to a season-high four consecutive games, dropping them to 63-44 on the year. They now trail Tampa Bay by 1 1/2 games for first place in the American League East after what was undoubtedly a crushing weekend.

That said, the Red Sox will be off on Monday as they prepare to embark upon the next portion of this three-city road trip in Detroit against a surprising 51-57 Tigers team led by Cora’s former colleague in A.J. Hinch.

Boston previously bested Detroit by taking the opening and concluding games of a three-game set at Fenway Park back in early May. The Sox outscored the Tigers, 28-22, in the process of doing so.

This time around, right-hander Garrett Richards will get the ball for Boston in Tuesday’s series opener at Comerica Park. He will be opposed by fellow righty Wily Peralta for Detroit.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN. Red Sox will be looking to snap this four-game skid.

(Picture of Alex Verdugo and Hunter Renfroe: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Alex Verdugo on Crushing First Home Run of Season With New Team: ‘To Finally Be Able to Help Out and Get a Couple Runs for Us, It’s Huge’

Going into Wednesday night, Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo was without a home run or RBI through his first nine games and 30 plate appearances with his new team.

That all changed against Rays left-hander Ryan Yarbrough in the fourth inning of an eventual 5-0 win for Boston at Tropicana Field to close out a seven-game road trip.

After striking out on eight pitches in his first at-bat against the Rays starter, Verdugo come to the plate for a second time with two outs and a runner on first following a Michael Chavis single.

On the second pitch he saw in his second at-bat against Yarbrough, which was nearly identical to the first’s location, the 24-year-old unloaded on an 0-1, 71 mph curveball at the bottom of the zone and deposited it 352 feet to the right field seats for his first home run of 2020 and his first in a Red Sox uniform. It also gave his side an early two-run lead.

“It felt amazing, man,” Verdugo said of his homer during his postgame media availability. “It’s pretty obvious a lot of us are going through it right now trying to find our swings. There’s a lot of new things in baseball, not being able to see the videos until after the games and all that. Usually, the in-game adjustments have been hard. It felt really good to finally be able to stay on one, to stay through it and get one out.”

Per Statcast, Verdugo’s two-run blast had an Expected Batting Average (xBA) of .220, so it wasn’t exactly barreled, per se, but it was still encouraging to see him make relatively hard contact nonetheless. His manager, Ron Roenicke felt that way as well.

“He was pretty happy, I’ll tell you that, when he came to the dugout,” said the Sox skipper. “It was huge. At the time, it was huge. I thought Yarbrough was throwing the ball fantastic and the next thing you know, we’ve got two runs on the board. The players know it, they feel what’s going on. To get that lead, I’m sure Dugie felt pretty good about that.”

Indeed, Verdugo did feel pretty good about getting his first one out of here since coming over from the Dodgers in February. More importantly, he was happy it contributed to a victory.

“I think the biggest thing for me was just to help the team out,” Verdugo said. “It was a tie game, so just to get up there and give us a 2-0 lead, give the pitcher and everybody a little breath. Like, ‘Hey, alright, we’ve got some room to work.’ That was my biggest part. I came here to contribute. I’ve played the game hard and I want to contribute in everything that I do. To finally be able to help out and get a couple runs for us, it’s huge.”

Following Wednesday’s impressive performance, Verdugo is showing why he should be starting more against left-handed starters, especially when the likes of Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr. are mired in slumps.

While with Los Angeles for parts of the previous three seasons, the left-handed hitting Arizona native slashed .306/.333/.452 slash line in 133 plate appearances against left-handed pitchers, earning the reputation of being a “reverse splits” guy.

Thus far with the Red Sox, Verdugo now owns an OPS of 1.009 through his first 16 plate appearances against southpaws this year, again proving that he should be playing more. Even still, the outfielder understands that finding playing time for everyone is no easy task.

“I always mess around with that,” Verdugo said with a smile. “When I’m not in there against a lefty, I’m like, ‘Hey, Ron, just so you know, man, I can hit ‘em.’ I think he knows it, too. I think he also knows when players are pressing. He’s doing his job, he’s doing what he has to do. I take a lot of pride against lefties.”

Also, it’s probably about time Verdugo moves up in the lineup, too. Just a thought.

 

Red Sox Lineup: Jose Peraza Gets First Start of Season in Left Field in Series Finale Against Rays

After stranding the bases loaded in the ninth inning of a 5-1 loss to the Rays on Tuesday, the Red Sox will look to wrap up their first road-trip of the season with a bounce-back win in St. Petersburg on Wednesday.

Left-hander Martin Perez will be making his third start of the year for Boston as he is coming off his first victory in a Red Sox uniform in his last time out against the Mets.

In five career outings (four starts) at Tropicana Field, the 29-year-old Perez owns a lifetime 8.39 ERA and .927 OPS against the Rays over 24 2/3 total innings of work.

Here is how the rest of the Red Sox will be lining up behind Perez and against Rays’ starter Ryan Yarbrough on Wednesday night:

Among the nine hitters in Boston’s lineup, J.D. Martinez has by far seen Yarbrough the best, as the 33-year-old owns a lifetime .636/.667/1.182 slash line in 11 career at-bats against the Rays southpaw.

Also worth noting here, Jose Peraza will be making his first start in left field with the Red Sox, a position he played 33 times while a member of the Cincinnati Reds.

With Peraza manning left field in this one, Andrew Benintendi will start the night on the bench, while the left-handed bats of Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mitch Moreland will also sit with a left-hander on the mound for Tampa Bay.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox going for win No. 4 in game No. 12.

Nathan Eovaldi the Latest Victim of Tropicana Field’s Catwalks as Red Sox Fall to Rays to Mark Fourth Straight Loss

In a match-up featuring two American League East clubs riding lengthy losing streaks, the Red Sox fell to the Rays on Tuesday, dropping their fourth consecutive contest while Tampa Bay broke out of a five-game skid.

Nathan Eovaldi made his third start of the season for Boston to kick off this quick two-game set, and he was moving right along, retiring 11 of the first 13 hitters he faced before running into a bit of trouble in the latter stages of the fourth.

There, with two outs, the right-hander appeared to strike out Yoshi Tstutsugo on a 3-2, 96 MPH heater on the inner half of the plate that was not swung at. Instead, home plate umpire Randy Rosenberg ruled the pitch a ball, and the Rays third baseman took his base.

Perhaps that missed call irked Eovaldi a bit, because in the very next at-bat, he served up a line-drive single to Joey Wendle to put runners at second and first. That brought Hunter Renfroe to the plate, and the Rays outfielder proceeded to poke a pop fly to foul territory on the third base side that likely would have been caught by Rafael Devers in just about any other major-league ballpark. Instead, Renfroe’s fly ball made contact with one of the catwalks that line Tropicana Field’s roof, and it was ruled a foul ball.

Given another chance with a runner in scoring position, Renfore took full advantage just moments after the ruling, as he laced a two-run double to give his side a 2-1 lead.

 

Eovaldi did manage to escape the fourth without giving anything else up after that bizarre sequence, but the bottom of the fifth did not treat him much better seeing how Austin Meadows and Brandon Lowe both drove in another pair of Rays runs to make it a 4-1 contest before the Sox starter put an end to things in what would be his final inning of work.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 85 (54 strikes) while striking out six, walking one, and plunking another, Eovaldi relied on his vaunted four-seam fastball more than 54% of the time he was on the mound Tuesday, inducing six swings-and-misses and topping out at 98.5 mph with the pitch.

Hit with his first losing decision while seeing his ERA on the year rise to 3.94, the 30-year-old hurler will get the chance to bounce back this Sunday against the Blue Jays back at Fenway Park.

In relief of Eovaldi, Phillips Valdez got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in the middle of the sixth, and he was only able to record the first two outs of the inning while putting two runners on before getting the hook in favor of left-hander Josh Osich.

Osich, making his fifth appearance of the season, fanned Rays catcher Michael Perez on five pitches to retire the side in the sixth. He also recorded the first out of the seventh before yielding a single to Lowe, which resulted in Ryan Brasier entering this contest/

Brasier, on for his third appearance of 2020, allowed a single to the first man he faced in Yandy Diaz, which allowed Lowe to advance to third and subsequently score on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Ji-Man Choi. The Rays went up 5-1 on that sequence.

From there, southpaw Jeffrey Springs gave up some loud outs in a perfect eighth inning of work to keep the deficit at four runs, although it didn’t matter in the end since the Red Sox fell in this one by a final score of 5-1 anyway.

On the flip side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar opponent in Rays veteran right-hander Charlie Morton, who had somewhat struggled through his first two outings of the new season.

That was not the case for Morton on Tuesday though, as the only run Boston got off the 36-year-old hurler came on a Mitch Moreland solo homer with one out in the second inning.

 

Per Statcast, Moreland’s third long ball of the 2020 campaign had an exit velocity of 96 mph and traveled 368 feet off the bat to the empty seats in right field. It also gave the Sox an early 1-0 lead.

An inning later, it appeared as though Boston was going to add on to that lead against Morton, as Jose Peraza led the frame off with a line-drive single and three batters later, J.D. Martinez ripped a double down the left field line that easily would have scored the runner from first had it not hopped over the fence.

Instead, Martinez settled for a ground-rule double, and Xander Bogaerts flew out to center to strand the two runners in scoring position.

Morton sat down eight of the next nine Red Sox hitters who came to the plate beginning in the fourth, and had the Rays known Michael Chavis was going to pinch-hit for Moreland beforehand, they likely would have kept the righty out there for one more batter.

Rather than that happening though, Tampa Bay brought in left-handed reliever Aaron Loup, and Sox manager Ron Roenicke countered by swapping Moreland for Chavis, who proceeded to ground out to short to put an end to the inning.

Fast forward to their last chance to push across anything in the ninth, and with one out and the bases loaded, Boston’s lineup was about to turn over once more as the Rays dispatched their closer Nick Anderson.

Anderson, a 29-year-old right-hander, is about as nasty as they come, and he showed that on Tuesday by first striking Peraza out looking on six pitches, and then doing the same with Andrew Benintendi in five.

Just like that, a golden opportunity for the Red Sox to claw back late in this one had gone for naught, and 5-1 would go on to be Tuesday’s final score.

Some notes and observations from this loss:

From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:

 

 

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

 

The Red Sox went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position on Tuesday. They left nine men on base as a team.

In positive news, J.D. Martinez went 2-for-4 with two hard-hit doubles off Charlie Morton, so perhaps he has found his swing once again.

Also, Jackie Bradley Jr. was at it again in center field.

 

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this quick two-game set against the Rays on Wednesday evening.

Left-hander Martin Perez will toe the rubber for Boston, while fellow lefty Ryan Yarbrough will do the same for Tampa Bay.

Perez is coming off his best outing in a Red Sox uniform thus far, working 5 2/3 innings of two-run ball against the Mets in a winning effort last Thursday. The 29-year-old owns a lifetime 8.39 ERA in five career appearances (four starts) and 24 2/3 innings pitched at Tropicana Field.

Yarbrough, meanwhile, has got his 2020 season off to a hot start as he has allowed just two runs through his first two starts and 11 2/3 innings of work this year. The 28-year-old out of Old Dominion University has appeared in nine career games against the Red Sox, three of which have been starts. In total, he owns a lifetime 4.84 ERA when pitching against Boston.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking to snap a four-game skid.